Archive for the ‘News’ Category

We have a Farm Bill, folks!

February 5, 2014 - 9:30 pm No Comments

Congress has passed a Farm Bill at last!

On the way to the House farm bill vote: Ariana Taylor-Stanley (NWFBAG/Tilth Producers of WA), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Ellen Gray (Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network), and Sam Bowhay (NWFBAG/Local Roots Farm)

Northwest Farm Bill Action Group organizers were in DC this last week participating in coalition meetings and lobby visits, and were lucky enough to witness the House vote. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

The bill passed has many wins for local food and sustainable agriculture including an expanded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, support for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and many beginning farmer programs. However, it also cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) by $8 billion over the next ten years. The final bill also failed to include important commodity subsidy payment limit reforms that had been included in all previous versions.

It has been a long journey to get to this point! This bill began being drafted in 2011, and we have followed it closely through the congressional quagmire since then. Thank you all for staying involved and taking action! Stay tuned as we move into next steps on implementing this bill and preparing for the next one.

Learn more about the new bill from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Keep up to date on Farm Bill news on our website

Happy New Year from NWFBAG: Another year of Farm Bill action lies ahead

January 8, 2013 - 5:23 pm No Comments

Image source: http://www.tomatowellness.com

The Northwest Farm Bill Action Group had a busy 2012 working for a better, fairer Farm Bill. We got close – after many meetings with legislators, Farm Bill 101 workshops, online actions, and community events, both the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passed versions of the Farm Bill which eliminated direct commodity subsidy payments and supported programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program which help build a sustainable, alternative food system. Unfortunately, House Republican leadership prevented the bill from coming to the floor to be passed.

Instead, in the wee hours of January 1, 2013, a back-room deal tacked a partial extension of the expired 2008 Farm Bill onto a package of other last-minute legislation to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff”. This 9-month extension does not fund any of the important programs which steer us toward a more sustainable and equitable food system, and instead continues the direct commodity subsidy payments we had already agreed to eliminate! Needless to say, the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group will have plenty to do in 2013.

On our list of plans for the new year:
- Join national allies in reproaching Congress for their failure to stand up for sustainable food systems and asking for more progress this year
- In partnership with the Washington Young Farmers Coalition, host a listening session with our state’s first US House Agriculture Committee member in seven years, Suzan DelBene
- Work with the Good Food Coalition to support a legislative effort to restore WSDA’s Farm to School and Small Farms Programs
- Continue to educate the Puget Sound community about the Farm Bill and lead local advocacy efforts for a better bill in 2013

Make your voice heard about food policy in Washington State! Upcoming Olympia Lobby Days:

Food and Farm Lobby Day: February 4th – contact ariana@tilthproducers.org to register
Hunger Action Day: February 22nd – register at http://www.wsahnc.org/annual-lobby-day/

NWFBAG Endorses Statement of Support for a Full and Fair Farm Bill

January 8, 2013 - 4:55 pm No Comments

The Northwest Farm Bill Action Group has signed on to endorse the following letter, in response to the counterproductive Farm Bill extension passed by Congress last week.

January 7, 2013

Statement of Support for a Full and Fair Farm Bill

We, the undersigned, worked diligently and in good faith with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to complete the 2012 Farm Bill in regular order. When that did not occur, the Committees jointly developed a plan for a one-year extension that, while flawed, had many merits. Like the Agriculture Committee leaders and members, we were shocked to learn that this agreement had been replaced by a biased extension that also disappointed the farmers, fishers, ranchers, Tribal Nations, farmworkers, and rural and urban communities we represent.

Direct payments were continued at the full 2008 levels – despite agreements to reduce them – while disaster response support for producers who have suffered up to three years of extreme drought and heat was eliminated.

In the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, Congress gradually adopted a set of programs to build the foundation for a new food system. This emerging food system, a small but growing portion of overall US Farm and Food Policy, has the potential to enhance equity for our nation’s diverse producers and farmworkers, secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural, urban and tribal communities, and provide fresh, local food for all consumers.

The Agriculture Committees’ December 31 agreement continued 2013 support for these critical programs, which ranged from Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to Beginning Farmer Development, Rural Development, Specialty Crop, Organic and Urban Agriculture, and others, including a deep surprise cut in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) education program. All of this funding was zeroed out as the Farm Bill extension was attached to the fiscal cliff bill that has now become law.

We thank the Agriculture Committee leadership and members for their efforts to achieve balance. Beginning immediately, we pledge to work with the incoming Agriculture Committees to complete a full and fair Farm Bill that mitigates disasters, protects natural resources, provides equity and inclusion, constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities, and assures healthy food for all consumers.

List of signatories:

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Northwest Farm Bill Action Group • www.nwfoodfight.org • 2011
Design based on Missed Spring theme • Rainier image courtesy of USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory